Thursday, 26 June 2014

Not lateral thinking, boring thinking

One of those pictures that people pass around via Facebook has appeared on my screen several times:

Apparently we are supposed to be impressed with the lateral thinking skills of the young Chinese children who worked out that the space the car is in is labelled 87 (upside down).

But I think the people who are circulating this totally miss the point of lateral thinking. That was the obvious answer, but almost all real world problems (as opposed to school tests) have multiple solutions, so there certainly should not be a single 'right' answer.

For example, perfectly acceptable solutions include that the space is labelled:
  • Park here
  • Visitor's Space
  • Headmaster
  • 0 (Indicating this is non-allocated parking)
  • 42 (Because it's the answer)
... and I am sure you can think of more.

To be fair to those setting the test, the original did have the question 'What parking spot # is the car parked in?' which was omitted in the way it was distributed on Facebook, which makes it less of a lateral thinking problem. But also a lot more boring.

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